How Twenty One Pilots Helped Me Understand My Daughter's Stim


My daughter, Zoey, is 4 years old, autistic and is considered nonverbal.

She can’t tell me her wants or needs or if she’s hurt or sick, and as her mom, I want and need to know these things. Through intense early intervention therapies, Zoey has come such a long way, and it has been one hell of a ride.

I found I could communicate with her through music, and soon my nonverbal daughter started singing — not talking — singing. 

There’s a song for just about every scenario in our house. If she says no, then you will hear her sing, “No more monkeys jumping on the bed …” Yep, that’s her rendition of the word “no.”

“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” was her first song, and it’s her go-to song if she’s angry or needs to escape from an over-stimulating situation or just from the world. 

I watch this gorgeous child stand while putting her hand up in the air as she stares into her palm like she’s seeing magic in her hands that no one else can see. And yeah, I wish I could see it! I watch her when this happens, and I’m jealous — like really jealous. This one particular stim is amazing. 

She has many stims like rocking and banging her head when she’s trying to soothe herself. And she’s a sensory seeker, so she has to touch and feel everything. Sand and water are her absolute faves!

But this one stim is beautiful, and when she does it, I can’t help but ask her every single time, “Zoey what do you see, my love? Is it beautiful? You make it seem so amazingly beautiful.”

Oh, how I wish I could see what she sees.

I’m jealous.

She does this stim all throughout her day with a huge smile on her face, so I know that it’s angelic whatever it is that she sees — it’s heavenly to her. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to see that? I tried to figure it out for two years, and I never could until recently with the help of her new favorite song.

Zoey and I jam out to music all day and night. Zoey is fast-paced, and she’s not the kind of kid to sit in front of the TV. In fact, when it’s on, she actually shuts it off herself. I love all kinds of music and so does Zoey. 

She likes “See You Again” by Carrie Underwood, “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts, Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata and Michael Bublé’s song “Lost.” She also loves Imagine Dragons and digs Elvis, too. So I am never surprised when a particular song touches her. She’s had so many different types of therapies, but nothing has done for her what music has done for her. 

Zoey communicates through music, and it’s awesome. I love it because I love music, too. It’s our connection.

Recently, I have been listening to a new band, and she digs them a lot. She comes running from her room when I start playing the Twenty One Pilots song “Ride.” And it’s not a little jog. I’m talking about a full-on sprint because she doesn’t want to miss the song. That’s how the Beastie Boys were for me at her age, so I know how much she likes this band. 

I had their video on our TV via YouTube, and she actually sat and watched it. Seriously, this kid doesn’t do TV, so I was shocked she didn’t try to move or shut it off. She heard her song, and she was watching them sing it on our TV

A very cool moment.

I had never seen this video, so I was into it, too. Then I saw her stim. The video was dark and then went to a bright light — darkness to light. Zoey stood up and put her hand up in the air. She had a huge smile on her face as she gazed at her palm, and then she closed her eyes — still smiling. She began to twirl and spin right where she stood. She was dancing, in her own way, to her own beat as the music played.

I finally understood.

I get it.

I’ve been thinking too much about it.

It’s really just as simple as this — it’s her pure joy and love for something.

Whenever things seem to go dark, she can find a way to see through to the light. And to me, she is pure light! 

Her world is music. She’s the lead singer. She wants to dance to her own beat to her favorite song. Yes, it’s a beautiful thing to see her in her world, and I’m taking my time here and so glad she let me in on her ride.

Follow this journey on Melissa’s Facebook page.

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